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How big an impact can a social enterprise make? For this local brand, the answer is in the bottle

How big an impact can a social enterprise make? For this local brand, the answer is in the bottle

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At this period in time, most of us have become desensitized with the deluge of new products that claim to have a social impact. “Spare a minute for this cause and that cause?” Ever-vigilant Filipinos have grown tired of supporting these scams mainly because there is no visible and measurable change that results from one’s decision to purchase, say, a bottle of shampoo.

Not to mention most of these “products for a cause” often sacrifice quality for cheaper production cost and ramp up its price to still make a killing out of the proceeds. 

The challenge now for real social enterprises is to be transparent, which is why Messy Bessy, a line of organic home and personal care products clearly states in its labels how they are affecting change. 

The business established in 2007 is a staple of most mall hallway stalls these days. The appeal of its products goes beyond its creed to use only organic ingredients and no chemicals. In fact, if you have been following the brand, its real bread-and-butter is the way it promotes its products: by prominently featuring their cause and the faces of its beneficiaries.

Made simply with baking soda and essential oils, this odor absorber spray can fund a four-hour group therapy. Part of Helping Ourselves Program’s curriculum is psychosocial intervention to process the trauma learners have gone through whether it be due to poverty or any other challenges they faced such as being street children, survivors of abuse of any kind, human trafficking, incarceration, etc.

A 975-mL container of their liquid laundry detergent made with coconut-based cleaners, for example, does not only list its ingredients but also indicates its social impact. For its price of P275, it could fund one hour of college classes for its student beneficiaries.

Of course, this alone cannot convince a consumer to cash in on their cause. And rightfully so. A thorough timeline from purchasing to how it ends up helping students and communities is the part where its mother foundation the Helping Ourselves Through Sustainable Enterprises (HOUSE) Foundation comes in.

The HOUSE founder Krie Reyes-Lopez with one of the program’s graduate and now its Corporate Sales Supervisor, Program Officer, and a certified in-house Life Coach, Angiela Mae.

Less than a decade after putting up Messy Bessy, Krie Reyes-Lopez had an idea on how they can magnify the success of their little social enterprise, thus creating the House Foundation. Assembling a trio of accomplished women in their own chosen fields, Reyes-Lopez, who herself came from a corporate background, set the foundations goal which is to alleviate poverty through youth empowerment.

To date, they have 400 beneficiaries, a quarter of which are existing learners working with Messy Bessy. They were also able to produce 38 college graduates and 22 Alternative Learning System (ALS) passers through its holistic educational curriculum called Helping Ourselves Program or HOP.

The House foundation

HOP transforms often underprivileged, out-of-school youth to well-rounded and productive members of society through four main pillars: academic education, values education, work skills training, and work ethics training. 

During their third year in the program, students are also sent out to partner enterprises to get first-hand job experience. This is done through the HOUSE’s continued partnership with private institutions such as Starbucks, where students are deployed to equip them with specific technical skills. The foundation is continuously looking for partners that are willing to take in their learners through customized programs suited to fit a company’s corporate social responsibility efforts.

Learners come from all over Metro Manila, but mostly from Tondo. A majority also come from referrals of existing learners in the program. They are selected via a process that includes the following: (1) aptitude test, (2) career assessment, (3) personality test, (4) background interview, (5) and panel interview.

Other than through partnerships and through their enterprise Messy Bessy, the HOUSE also fund their programs through donations. These monetary denominations are further specified for purposes such as book and school supplies allowance, stipends, and tuition fee to name a few.

When there persists an increasing gap between the wealthy and the poor in the country, small social enterprises play a vital civic role to make consumers realize that it is in their power to make a change. 

To date, the HOUSE has produced 38 college graduates and 22 Alternative Learning System (ALS) passers through its holistic educational curriculum called Helping Ourselves Program or HOP.

Something as simple as patronizing a well-meaning cause can make a difference. On the end of social enterprises, a level of transparency is required not just to entice supporters but also inform underprivileged people that such platforms exist and that through such, a better future is possible.

Find out how else you can help support the education of the HOUSE Foundation’s learners by visiting their website.


All photos courtesy of The HOUSE Foundation

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